Is it true that Windows XP has been pulled from the shelf?
So, my question back to you is – is it okay to upgrade to Windows 7?
I'm pleased to say that we are very comfortable with Windows 7 now that it's one year old, and no longer a fledgling operating system. We're seeing it work well in blended domains with some machines running XP and others running Windows 7, or even the ill-fated Windows Vista (which we are removing as fast as we can).
Microsoft is planning on continuing support for XP until April 2014, so you can still expect to get over three years of support for the systems you set up now – as long as you keep it up-to-date with patches.
Interestingly enough, reports are that Windows 7 is selling three times faster than Vista and has already been installed on more PCs than Vista was. While Windows XP is still the world's most popular operating system, it holds between 50-60% of market share. Windows 7 is noted as having 80% share in the netbook space.
So, what should the strategy be going forward? As I see it, there are a few choices:
- Change nothing and keep using XP
- As PCs are replaced, replace them with Windows 7
- Upgrade all machines to Windows 7 now
I am not a fan of upgrading software on old PCs, as it takes a lot of work and seldom gives good results (because new software places demands on old equipment that are not well met). The time that goes into the upgrade process is often more valuable than the equipment and leads to a very short life cycle, so it is an investment that ends up delivering no ROI.
Keeping Windows XP is probably not going to give you any benefit unless you have very special applications that will not shift across. If you do have very special software, you need to start planning and testing your migration now and push the software vendors to update. Otherwise, 2014 will be here in the blink on an eye and may mark the end of your business that is dependent on the very special software. If it's code you wrote yourself, start writing again or find a new solution soon!
So, upgrading as PCs are replaced seems to be my preference for small and medium businesses (for corporate environments, my advice would be different). No hard sell in that, but that is the way I like it. Given how slow hardware sales have been in the past two years of economic turmoil, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of PCs out there that need upgrading, so start budgeting your PC and operating system upgrades soon so that the cost doesn't catch you out.
Of course, having a good advisor to help you navigate this upgrade phase and make sure you're retiring the right equipment, and putting the right software on your new equipment, will help you get the best return on investment possible. Do consider your finance and warranty options too. It can make all the difference to your cashflow and sanity.
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David Markus is the founder of Combo - the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.